Articles on the race for Common Council president ask why business leaders are contributing to the campaign of Dave Franczyk. It's simple. It's time for change.
Buffalonians are fed up with the status quo, NiMo's predatory electric rates, garbage fees, a waterfront that never was, excessive taxes, redundant government services, businesses relocating and an inferior, chaotic education system. Buffalonians want a vision for tomorrow and good jobs for their children and grandchildren.
As Council president, Franczyk will call back Buffalo's best minds to update and implement the financial plan to reform government, support charter revision to reduce the size of the Council, ensure cost-efficient government services to create jobs and reform city employee contracts so they are fair to the taxpayers.
The current Council president, Jim Pitts, has presided over the largest exodus of people and businesses from the city in its history. His anti-development and obstructionist leadership has served the special interests of the city employee unions.
Look at a small part of his record:
Public employee contracts. Last January's snow removal was a disgrace because of public-employee contracts championed by Pitts. We had 62 pieces of equipment, but we had only 26 drivers. Mayor Masiello was handicapped by a ridiculous union contract imposed by Pitts that prohibited officials from calling in temporary help. As a result, the mayor had to shut down the city, declare a state of emergency and call in the National Guard.
Public-employee union leaders stand behind Pitts because he supports concessions on management prerogatives, rights to unnecessary overtime pay and the most expensive health-insurance plans, while taxpayers suffer the highest real estate taxes in America.
Education. When he was hired, Schools Superintendent James Harris lacked the experience to lead this district. He had been a music teacher and had only one year's experience as an administrator in a 1,600-student district.
Phil Rumore, head of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, and Anthony Palano, leader of the administrators' union, support Harris. He has been an easy mark, yielding massive concessions in negotiations for the teachers' and administrators' contracts.
Pitts played the "race card" to intimidate the School Board to keep Harris, give him more money and extend his contract. The fiasco is an embarrassment to hard-working citizens, black and white, who want the best education for their children.
Gridlock. Our Council, mired in eternal gridlock, is unable to address the simplest issue on its merits or make the hard and painful decisions of change. It's entwined in politics, worried about getting elected the next time out and unable to make basic decisions because it is subject to the intimidating and vindictive leadership of Pitts.
It has been on his watch that Buffalonians have come to forego excellence and accept mediocrity in city government.
Financial Plan Commission. Two hundred of Buffalo's best, in an effort to define Buffalo's problems and find solutions, presented a "financial plan" to the Common Council. Pitts, in an inexcusable insult, proclaimed, "who are these people who assume to know more about our government than us, the duly elected representatives?" He then put the report on the shelf.
Isn't it time that we give someone else a chance? We have nothing to lose. The status quo isn't working.
The city needs leaders who will get beyond politics and make value decisions. Every journey begins with the first step. Tuesday's primary is your opportunity to do something about your future.
CARL PALADINO is a Buffalo attorney and developer.